A majority of U.S. parents (58%) rate their neighborhood as an excellent or very good place to raise children, and an additional 28% give their community a good rating, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. However, more than one-in-ten parents (14%) say their neighborhood is only a fair or poor place to raise kids, and these shares of parents have higher levels of worry for their children’s well-being.
For example, 46% of parents who give their neighborhood only a fair or poor rating say they are very or extremely worried about their children getting shot at some point, compared with a far smaller share (18%) of parents who say they live in a good, very good or excellent area. Similarly, among K-12 parents who aren’t home-schooling their children, 53% who give their neighborhood only a fair or poor rating are extremely or very worried about a shooting ever happening at their child’s school. This compares with 28% of parents who rate their neighborhood more positively.
The survey was fielded at a time when gun violence had become the leading cause of death for U.S. children. More broadly, recent research has shown that where children grow up can make a difference in key outcomes in their lives.
Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to study how parents assess their neighborhoods as a place to raise children and how that relates to their worries. To do this, we surveyed 3,757 U.S. parents with at least one child younger than 18. Most parents who took part are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This survey also included an oversample of Black, Hispanic and Asian parents from Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, another probability-based online survey web panel recruited primarily through national, random sampling of residential addresses.
Address-based sampling ensures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
Here is the question on parents’ neighborhood ratings used for this analysis, along with responses, and the survey’s methodology. The topline findings for the other questions mentioned in this analysis can be found here: Topline 2 | Topline 3 | Topline 4.
Related: About a third of K-12 parents are very or extremely worried a shooting could happen at their children’s school
Parents who rate their community more negatively are also more likely to be worried about other physical dangers facing their kids. Some 44% of these parents are extremely or very worried about their children getting beaten up, attacked, kidnapped or abducted – far higher than the share of parents who say they live in a good, very good or excellent place to raise their children.
About half of parents (51%) who say they live in an only fair or poor area say they are very or extremely worried about their children struggling with anxiety or depression or being bullied. Among parents who rate their neighborhood more positively, the shares are smaller for these two items – 38% say they are extremely or very worried about their children struggling with anxiety or depression, and a third say the same about being bullied. Research has shown that mental health disorders are more common among children growing up in “non-supportive neighborhoods” – that is, those where residents do not help each other or watch out for each other’s children.
Among parents with children in K-12 schools, those who rate their neighborhood as only fair or poor are also less satisfied with the quality of the education their children are receiving. Only 38% are extremely or very satisfied, compared with 60% of parents who say their neighborhood is a good, very good or excellent place to raise children.
Demographic differences in neighborhood ratings
Parents’ assessments of their neighborhoods vary greatly by race and ethnicity, income level and community type. Two-thirds of White parents (67%) and about six-in-ten Asian parents (62%) rate their neighborhood as an excellent or very good place to raise children – about 20 or more percentage points higher than Black parents (43%) and Hispanic parents (42%). Black and Hispanic parents, in turn, are much more likely to say their neighborhood is an only fair or poor place to raise children (29% and 22%, respectively).
Parents with lower incomes (29%) are much more likely than middle- or upper-income parents (9% and 4%) to say their neighborhood is only a fair or poor place to raise children. Among lower-income parents, Black parents (42%) are more likely than Hispanic (33%) or White (21%) parents to say that their neighborhood is only fair or poor in this regard. (The sample size for lower-income Asian parents is too small for separate analysis.) However, income differences persist when controlling for race and ethnicity.
Parents living in urban areas (29%) are more likely than those in rural (12%) or suburban areas (8%) to give their neighborhood an only fair or poor rating. Among urban parents, there are stark racial and ethnic differences: 47% of Black parents living in urban areas rate their neighborhood as only fair or poor, compared with 32% of Hispanic parents and 20% of White parents. (The sample size for Asian parents in urban areas is too small for separate analysis.) Additionally, lower-income parents in urban areas are particularly likely to rate their neighborhood as only fair or poor, with 41% saying this. Just 21% of middle-income and 9% of upper-income parents in urban areas say the same.